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Please help - getting very worried about ds

(20 Posts)
Lethal Wed 02-Feb-05 06:40:36

My ds is 4 1/2 and has recently started pre-school. While he seems very normal in many ways, I've been concerned for a some time about his reactions to things. All I can put it down to is that he seems to have some deep-seated fears or insecurities that affect him every now and again, and I don't know where they've come from.

For instance, I took him to an occupational therapist towards the end of last year, to try and improve his fine motor skills. (He shows little interest in drawing and until recently, couldn't hold a pencil properly). Anyway when I arrived at the OT's office, she said that I could sit in another room with a television monitor while she was assessing ds, so that I could watch what was going on. She took us down to this room where the tv monitor was set up, and said to ds "Mummy will be sitting in here while we are in the other room". She was a very nice woman and there was NOTHING threatening about her at all. When he walked into the room, he had a very hesistant look on his face and then started to cry, saying he wanted to get out of there - he actually got very agitated. So I ended up sitting in the same room with them while she was doing the assessments. Later on, she commented to me that she hasn't seen a child react like that before. It's like he becomes inconsolable if he doesn't like the idea of something, or if he's afraid.

Yesterday at pre-school, the teacher wanted the kids to make footprints with their feet, using paint. From what I could gather, all the other kids were happy to do this but my ds became very upset and refused to do it. She asked me if there was any reason for him becoming so upset by this. I have NO IDEA at all, quite frankly. he also doesn't like face-painting and will not allow anyone to put paint on his face, while other kids seem to love it. I asked him why he didn't want to put his foot in the paint and he just said that he 'didn't want to'. (We've hardly ever done any painting at home, but that's no reason for him to be afraid of it, IS IT?!) There are also a couple of things that he's taking AGES to grasp, like apparently he still goes and takes a toy away from another child if he wants it, despite being told by the teachers that he must find something else to play with. In some ways he seems very intelligent and picks things up quickly (he has an excellent memory), but with these other issues, I'm on the verge of having him assessed. On a day-to-day basis he seems fine and is very up-front with what he wants (he's not at all shy), which is why this is such a contradiction. Does anyone have any experience of a child being so fearful? I can't help feeling that something is wrong somewhere.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 02-Feb-05 06:48:46

I think being worried because you weren't in the same room sounds completely normal lethal - look at all the threads here asking about how to handle children who are upset at being left at pre school. And especially if he'd never met her before! I can't believe she's never seen a child react like that before, maybe she usually deals with older children? There were children at our playgroup who had fears about various things - face painting being one of them actually in one little girls case - it seems to be fairly normal at 4. I think they've all got fears about some things at this age and we just need to reassure them as we can't always know where they come from. So what if he doesn't want to put his foot in paint? It's hardly a life skill! You haven't said anything that sounds out of the ordinary for a 4yo boy to me, 4 is still very young.

Lethal Wed 02-Feb-05 07:00:25

Thanks wwww - I just feel it goes a bit beyond 'normal' sometimes. I know what you're saying about him not wanting to be separated from me in a strange place, but I think it's the excessiveness of his reactions that bothers me. He becomes inconsolable sometimes, and you just can't reason with him or talk him out of it. I took him into a dentist's office recently to try and make an appointment for him (his first one ever), and he flipped out. He's never even been to a dentist before!! He seems to be afraid of things even before anything's happened, like he's pre-empting the worst all the time. I just don't know why he has these intense fears and I wish I knew what was at the root of it.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 02-Feb-05 07:05:54

Lethal, you know him best and if you think there's something not quite right, maybe you're right. Hope someone else sees this and has some suggestions.

Bozza Wed 02-Feb-05 08:50:34

Lethal - is it a sort of fear of the unknown? Is he like this about new things in general or just certain new things?

Lethal Wed 02-Feb-05 09:13:51

It definitely seems to be a fear of the unknown, but some new things bother him and some don't. It seems to depend what sort of association he has with it. If he finds the idea of something threatening, then he will react badly - but if he finds something appealing about it, then he will be quite keen to try it. I just don't know what his particular fears are based on.

weightwatchingwaterwitch Wed 02-Feb-05 09:14:49

Is it something he's watching I wonder? What does he say if you ask him? Sometimes it's so hard to get to the bottom of these things isn't it?

Carla Wed 02-Feb-05 09:29:06

Lethal, have only read your original post so sorry if I'm repeating what others have said.

DD2 (who was 5 in October) throws a dicky fit if anything like paint or felt tip gets on her hand/finger. So much so that I have banned felt tips from the house. She also will not tolerate having her face painted, and I'm absolutely certain would not even entertain the idea of having her sole painted.

Re. situation with OT. I think this is perfectly normal. If dd had cottoned on that I was going to be in a different room while she was escorted elsewhere with a perfect stranger, she would have been distressed by that too. I think the OT was being particularly insensitive in mentioning it to you, too. If she felt that it would have been better to wait until after the session when she would have had a clearer picture.

dinosaur Wed 02-Feb-05 09:37:13

Lethal, I know Jimjams often recommends a bookcalled The Out of Synch Child, I haven't read it myself but I think it is good on sensory issues. Try searching old threasdsfor refs *(sorry can't di it myself as have vert cross babba on knee0

aloha Wed 02-Feb-05 09:52:42

My first thought is that he may have some sensory issues which would explain his horror at the idea of putting his feet in paint - not so much fear and fairly strong revulsion. As if someone asked you to do something you considered pretty disgusting, like handling snails or something (or is that just me ) - this doesn't have to be a big problem. I suspect it's fairly common.
I also think it is pretty normal to not want to be a room with a stranger and agree that it was insensitive of the OT to have handled it like that. My ds is three and a half and has had some recent assessments for dyspraxia and I have always been present. Wouldn't dream of not staying with him and would be pretty shocked if someone tried to usher me out of the room - tv monitor or no tv monitor.
And yes, I do know children who have quite strong fears and reactions to things - my goddaughter was still having tantrums at seven, but is a very intelligent, normal girl, just super-sensitive and emotional (writes poetry these days).
Starting pre-school is also a huge change in a child's life and can alter behaviour patterns from everything I've heard. And of course, he is still very young. Only four!
However, you do know your child much better than we do and so if you feel something isn't right, then maybe your first port of call might well be his class teacher. Make an appointment for a chat and ask how he is getting on, while making it clear that you have some concerns yourself.

binkie Wed 02-Feb-05 09:53:04

There is a very recognised stage of development (can't remember now when it's meant to be, but I bet it's the fours) when children become aware of their environment in such a way as to be able to predict/understand their place in it (when it's familiar). So an intelligent child at that stage of development, presented with something unfamiliar, might well be overwhelmed with feelings of "what might this be? what might this do? where might this go?"

I say this because my ds is lots like yours. Eg, at 4 and a bit, he developed the most terrifying (to me) fear of glass roofs - remember having to help him practically crawl, shaking, across the floor of a shopping centre. My strategy (done in a softly softly sort of way) was to get him talking about buildings when we weren't in them, accidently on purpose show him interesting architectural pictures when we were in libraries, overall try to help him to fill in the gaps in his grasp of the world that were making him think the roof would fall in.

Oh, and on the therapist, my ds once point-blank refused (again in a very nervous way) to talk to or look at an elderly friend of ours just because she had rather a lot of eye make-up on. We had a fair few chats about that too and he's completely forgotten about it now.

Sorry this is so long - if your ds really is like mine, the key is talking talking - once the fears are out in the open we have always found that there is a logic to them. And that I don't think needs further professional assessment.

I should say, though, that if your ds's fears and anxieties seem to seriously "stick" in some way - so as to become a fear-and-fixation at the same time - then it is possible you should have a word with your doctor.

Hope that helps.

tatt Wed 02-Feb-05 10:01:00

my daughter hated face painting or any type of messy play. She also had strange fears and wouldn't talk to adults. But what really rang a bell was trouble holding the pen. She is mildly dyspraxic but I'm glad to say the effect seems to be lessening as she gets older. We haven't found anyone (doctors, playgroup, school) a help but there are books about dyspraxia. You may find your son would respond to just repeating comments/ instructions as dyspraxic children don't cope well with instructions. That may have been the problem with the strange woman

tatt Wed 02-Feb-05 10:02:36

forgot to say - plastic gloves may help them join in messt activities.

Jimjams Wed 02-Feb-05 10:21:15

agree about the sensory issues- and definitely recommend the out of synch child.

Jimjams Wed 02-Feb-05 10:21:49

btw sensory issues are common with dyspraxia...

Lethal Wed 02-Feb-05 10:29:58

Maybe I should find out more about dyspraxia... I've looked into it briefly before, but didn't think it applied to ds. Perhaps I should check it out again.

Jimjams is there anything further you can tell me about the out of synch child?

Jimjams Wed 02-Feb-05 10:41:06

It's a cheap book and gooes into the symptoms of hypo/hyper sensitivity and gives some ideas for dealing with it/sensory progammmes etc.

Madelain Portwood 'developmental dyspraxia" is worth a read as well (should be in the library).

Lethal Wed 02-Feb-05 22:21:35

It's really frustrating because a lot of the symptoms of dyspraxia don't really apply to ds, although a few of them do. The only things I could find which 'matched' ds were
1) occasional aversion to loud noises (putting hands over ears)
2) not liking finger painting/messy activities (although ds has done these activities from time to time and hasn't always been bothered by them)
3) being overly affectionate and impulsive/over-active at times
4) expresses fears or phobias.

Everything else on the list doesn't seem to fit, which I suppose may mean that he either has only some aspects of this disorder, or that these symptoms are being caused by something else. I've been to the OT about 3 or 4 times now, wouldn't she have been able to detect signs of dyspraxia? She has just put it down to a weakness in his fine motor skills and feels that it can be improved through a variety of exercises. I don't know whether he should be assessed further by an OT, or perhaps by a child psychologist? I feel that I'm being a bit over the top about all this, as dh tells me that 'ds is his own person and I shouldn't expect him to be exactly like everybody else.' But it would at least help me to understand him better if I knew what was causing these problems.

What was the outcome of your ds' assessments Aloha? How is your ds going now?

Jimjams Wed 02-Feb-05 22:29:39

Have a read of the out of synch child- hypersensitivity is often found with dyspraxia but can be found alone (look up SID- sensory integration dysfunction). All of your list are sensory issues- even weakness. DS1's pencil grip is incredibly weak and we were told that it was a due to his hands being too over sensitive, so that holding a pencil is acually uncomfortable/painful for him (I kind of have my doubts about that explanation but still).

He has improved a lot with a sensory programme. We did one at home which helpeed a lot, and now he gets a daily (I think- seems to be) sensory programme at school, and he is coming home very chilled out.

Saker Wed 02-Feb-05 22:33:00

My ds2 is 31/2 and may be dyspraxic - he certainly has a lot of the "symptons" but we don't have a diagnosis. As I understand it dyspraxia is never diagnosed without significant impairment of motor skills, so if your ds doesn't fit those criteria except possibly in fine motor skills it is unlikely that anyone would suggest dyspraxia.

Also in my ds2's case he loves anything messy and actually looks for opportunities to get his fingers in mud, water, food etc!

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